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How to teach your child to stop eating his boogers


How to get your child to stop eating their boogers

He stood there in the middle of the white tiled floor with rumpled after-nap hair and eyes blinking back the bright afternoon sunlight for a few moments before he began to spew repeatedly.

It wasn’t a violent upheaval, just a slow, steady stream.

Every single noodle eaten just hours before now lay on the floor in a mash of thick, sticky vomit.

I rubbed his back and reassured him it was okay, gently moving him a little bit further away from the furniture while he continued to empty his stomach.

“We all get sick sometimes,” I told him. “Just let it all out sweetie. Don’t worry, we’ll clean it up later.”

It would have been futile to try and relocate him to a more “suitable” vomiting place. No need to string the mess along throughout the entire apartment that our friend let us borrow for the day so that we could use the pool while she was away at work.

Instead we stayed in the middle of that cool, tile floor until his little tummy settled and its contents were done splattering.

With a concerned, furrowed brow and eyes full of compassion I comforted him with all the empathy in the world… until I was caught off guard at the next thing that came out of his out of his mouth:

“I ate too many boogers, Mommy. I just ate them and ate them and ate them. I put so many boogers in my mouth and then I got sick from the boogers.”

My compassion was still there but suddenly it was competing with the incredible urge to let loose with an outburst of ferocious belly laughter — the sort that would bring water to my eyes and delight to my soul and yet could also bring needless insecurity to my sensitive little boy in the aftermath of his most unpleasant incident.

“Ok honey, ok…” I quietly consoled. “Don’t you worry about that right now babe. It’s ok,” I squeaked out, trying desperately not to giggle or even hint at cracking a smile.

“But I is sick because I ate wots and wots of boogers Mommy. I ate so many boogers,” he wholeheartedly confessed. “And then I got sick out my mouth.”


There are times when I wonder if my children hear a single word I say.

And then there are other times where I realize they do hear. Yes, I realize, they hear every. single. word.

Flashback to a few weeks prior:

“Levi, please don’t eat your boogers,” I pleaded. “Boogers are yucky. You can wipe them on a tissue, or wash them down the sink, but we never, ever eat them. Boogers are full of germs and germs can make us sick if we put them in our mouths.”

Now—like most moms—I try to always tell my kids the truth and never make up explanations for things that I don’t know. Technically, I don’t know if eating boogers can make you sick (I know for a fact that watching someone eat boogers can make you sick), but I figured my logic was fairly sound and it was a good reason—perhaps even a deterrent—to pass on to Levi.

I also know that since I told him about the germs I’ve never witnessed him eat any boogers… but I’ve suspected he still did behind closed doors.


Oh, that precious three-and-a-half year old brain that put it all together, even in the moment of his very unfortunate vomiting episode: Eating my boogers made me sick, just like Mommy said it would. (Bless his little believing heart.)

I’m not sure whether to be proud, surprised, baffled, regretful, or relieved that I told him booger-eating could make him sick. But this, I do know:

Moms, they really do listen to us. Perhaps much more than we think. 

Dear friends, I’m quite sure a tummy bug made Levi sick last week… not overdosing on boogers. But is it bad that I’m kinda glad he jumped to that conclusion and we might never have to tell him to stop eating boogers again?? Now it’s your turn. Tell me your favorite booger story. I know you have one.


P.S. Psst. Have you entered to win this giveaway yet? Over $1000 worth of prizes being offered at Grace for Moms by entering HERE.

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  • Reply Ana Lyman 1 August 2013 at 2:42 am

    Oh Adriel! I just snorted coffee through my nose. I am so sorry his little tummy was so upset, but his confession was priceless. I don’t have any booger stories as awesome as that–but I do know my lil guys don’t eat theirs. Nope, they are all smeared in the corner inside the closet. The Lyman Boy Booger Wall. It’s well stocked.
    Ana Lyman recently posted..Last Day of School!My Profile

  • Reply Gwen 1 August 2013 at 4:31 am

    Oh, this made me laugh out loud!!! Poor Levi. But I bet he doesn’t eat them any more, secretly or otherwise! Hope his little tummy bug left with the noodles … xoxo

  • Reply Lisa 3 August 2013 at 1:15 am

    Aaaagghhh!!! That was awesome! And disgusting! All at once! Loved it! And now, your booger lesson has been well learned. Couldn’t ask for a better teacher than experience. 🙂

  • Reply Nessa 3 August 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Oh my goodness!!!! What a little smarty pants you have there – connecting those dots. Oh how boogers and farts make my 3 1/2 year old laugh and squeal. Such gross little ones they are!
    Nessa recently posted..little man, my tiny babyMy Profile

  • Reply Kate 7 August 2013 at 9:38 pm

    I am just rolling!!!! Lately, my daughter (also 3 1/2) has been eating and CHEWING her boogers!!! agh! It’s always as we’re falling asleep and I can hear her and I look at her and she looks at me and laughs, and says, ‘did you see that?’. Bwahahaha!!!!
    Kate recently posted..Elimination Communication With Two Under ThreeMy Profile

  • Reply Lindsay@littlehousebigworld 10 August 2013 at 6:12 am

    Oh goodness. Poor thing. In recent months I discovered my son’s “booger wall” beside his bed. At least he listened to the “don’t eat them” part. Wiping them on the wall wasn’t what I had in mind though.
    Good message in this post. They listen more than it seems sometimes.
    Lindsay@littlehousebigworld recently posted..The Truth About BedtimeMy Profile

  • Reply Chuck Mcm 31 July 2014 at 6:18 pm

    My child is 3 years of age and he started picking his nose a year ago. And now is wanting to eat other kids boogers. And he has a tantrum when they won’t let him, I need so advice. Any thing helps thanks

  • Reply Thomas 8 August 2014 at 8:14 pm

    OMG, so happy to find your blog post. Thanks a lot for your tips, I will apply to my two monkeys very soon.
    I recently download a small kids book from amazon about a little sorcerer who eats her boogers. At the end of the story we find out that because of this behavior she has a big toad in her throat! We laughed a lot together but he asked me about the toad today and I noticed that so far he does not grab in his little nose 😉 .
    Thanks again.

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